my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

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in which we move into our new apartment

View from our balcony at night, overlooking the pool

View from our balcony at night, overlooking the pool

Hello Singapore, goodbye 34th floor Great World City, and welcome to 11th floor in Holland Hill!

First thing we did after we got off the plane (one night in a hotel before the big move) was to rush off to Jumbo seafoods for some proper Chinese cooking. Calamari, BBQ tilapia and some delicious steamed kai lan (a kind of spring cabbage) with garlic. Too disoriented to take photos I’m afraid!

Next morning, bright and early – 8 am to be precise – found us outside the Ministry of Manpower to register for residency and work permits. We had no appointment, but were through in 15 minutes. Singapore never ceases to surprise at its efficiency, and politeness.

Ross enjoying wi fi on the first night

Ross enjoying wi fi on the first night

Then off to Parivs apartments to meet Glenn our relocation manager and – ta-da – we enter our new abode. Much better than I remembered, marble floors and white walls throughout and devoid of other people’s ghastly furniture.

our Burmese chairs, on the marble floors

our Burmese chairs, on the marble floors

Within minutes the air-freight has arrived (bedding, hoover and iron – domestic goddesses never travel without, don’t you know – and of course desk-top computer, TV, and dvd player). Quickly followed by the cable man who installs wi fi etc in a trice; the IKEA delivery of two beds – but heavens – we have no water, electricity or gas, and the stuff we left in Singapore has not arrived either, plates, kives, forks and glasses…so Ross has to zoom down to nearby store for lunch and cold beers! After lunch the electricity  and water are switched on at precisely 2 pm as requested, and my two lovely Burmese chairs arrive, followed by the balcony furniture. Only the Gas Man cometh not till Friday…so luckily no way I can cook until then!

View from balcony

View from balcony

In fact the gas was the only low point of this care-free move. Man came at appointed hour on Friday, stayed all of 7 minutes, turned everything on, showed me how to switch it off when we go away. Come evening and first gourmet meal ready to go in the wok – Thai red fish curry (paste hand-made of course), with Chinese broccoli – and no gas!

the first meal - Thai red curry - once the gas man had re-installed the meter

the first meal – Thai red curry – once the gas man had re-installed the meter

Several phone calls to afore-mentioned Glenn and two gas men arrive within 15 minutes! Can you believe that in between the man turning us on, another man had come and taken our meter away altogether. Wah!

But all is not lost, these two lovely men have one in their van, it is duly fitted and we are eating by 9.30. It really is efficient here, even when there’s a glitch

Kinara curry - yum!

Kinara curry – yum!

Off to sample the victuals in Holland Village, first night a rather mediocre meal in Crystal Jade (Cantonese, rather than Shanghai, so no noodles or dumplings), but the second night a really delicious curry at Kinara – house special chicken, Kerala fish curry, okra and black dhal.

Please admire the gorgeous Ikat cushions bought in local shop sale, not forgetting the colour coordination

Please admire the gorgeous Ikat cushions bought in local shop sale, not forgetting the colour coordination

Meanwhile Ross has been back at work and I have been exploring the local shops – bought some fine new cushions, some lovely Egyptian cotton sheets (all the ones I bought did not fit as Ross bought beds larger than instructed!).

No move is complete without the mandatory trip to IKEA and we fill the numerous gaps left in my meagre transportation of goods from England – which of course are yet to arrive – guest duvet (bed now too big!), laundry baskets, loo brushes, rubbish bins,  lamps – bedside and living room – etc etc. It was really not too bad; as it’s open till 11pm I think people don’t all come at once.

Obligatory rice cooker!

Obligatory rice cooker!

Our balcony is stinking hot in the middle of the day, so Saturday finds us back in Great World City buying a floor fan (sorry English people, they are abundant here, can I get one for you?); a printer/scanner as I have found someone in London to transcribe my mother’s letters, which I plan to edit into book form; and a must-have for here – a rice cooker!

Pool as seen from balcony; the landscaping is fab too

Pools – all four – as seen from balcony; the landscaping is fab too

Meanwhile the new lap pool is 60 m long and I have started my daily 1 km workout, pre-ceded by the gym. Ross – who for those who haven’t picked up on this – has become addicted to swimming and has started lessons with a local TI (Total Immersion) teacher. Whatever keeps him happy – although he looks ridiculous ploughing up the pool in his swimming snorkel.

Ross enjoying a noodle soup at local Food COurt on Saturday

Ross enjoying a noodle soup at local Food Court on Saturday

And tomorrow we are off to Shanghai, me for a week, Ross for a bit longer. Louise’s dear friend Jess lives there so we are looking forward to a more local experience of the sights, and some gastronomic adventures.

forgot to bring and bedroom chairs, so we have bought a Yo Yo

forgot to bring any bedroom chairs, so we have bought a Yo Yo


in which I shop for essential items


View from my kitchen

Day 5: now worked out what I am missing; no, essential items are not replica bags and designer clothes (all of which would be nice but not available here – they are all the real thing and cost zillions).

After 3 days of getting into the new routine: swim 1 km in 35 mins, read my book for an hour, and then for the rest of the day read through mum’s letters in chronological order – now up to 1942 and she’s just been commissioned and  is on a boat but all the interesting bits have been cut out by the censor! – decided to go on first major expedition ON MY OWN.

This is quite easy in truth – Great World Serviced Apartments has nifty FREE shuttle bus that goes to Orchard Road, Mecca of shopping, every 30 mins, and returns in a loop. It deposits me right outside Tang’s Department store (est’d 1932) where the kitchen equipment is in the basement.

Yes, dear reader, I am ashamed to say that this blog risks becoming rather food-oriented (fellow blogger Janet will be impressed my my devotion to housewifely duties, even in Singapore, while she struggles in civilised France to do the same…).

ImageEssential items for a foodie like me boil down to: wok (amazingly flat did not have one); single Bodum cafetière; small egg-size milk saucepan; Kenwood automatic chopper for making own fresh red and green Thai curry sauces and chopping coconut for Keralan curries (these require chopped flesh, not just milk); lime squeezer; garlic press; and four mugs – again only two terrible thick ones and I must have bone china for my tea. Wonderful Tangs had most of these on offer, so I felt a very good housewife indeed. Decided not to get the cute godlfish dinner service though…

IMG_1023Virtue not rewarded as greeted by the 4pm sharp monsoon downpour with thunder and lightening and got wet waiting for the bus. Wah! (new expression which makes me sound quite acclimatised, don’t you think?).

Food highlights have been delicious Thai green prawn curry cooked by me; and last night’s trip to Spize, 6 pm to 6 am local diner where we feasted on seafood nasi goring (Indonesian fried rice) and squid in a hot sauce, with belacan kangkung (water convolvulus with dried shrimp and shrimp paste), washed down with a half litre of sharp fresh lime, all for S$30.

Other news: it looks like neither of us will get visas for India: they changed the rules three weeks ago and as Ross does not have a work permit here, and as I am only the ‘accompanying spouse’ with no official status, it’s looking tricky. Down to the High Commission first thing tomorrow. It’s a blow for Ross as it’s part of his job to go there in 10 days time! I have to say ‘I told you so’, as I suspected you had to apply from your country of residency but no-one ever listens to me…